Mixing up words like alot vs. a lot and anxious vs. eager

The Writingessentialsbyellen.com blog has a new “look”: posts will be shorter so that readers can get the essential questions answered quickly, but links will be provided to previous and new essays that go deeper into the language usage and controversy points. Reply to the post to let me know how you like the new format. …

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What is pronoun antecedent agreement?

In the previous post on vague pronoun reference, we discussed the role of pronouns in taking the place of nouns that preceded them, which are called their antecedents. The traditional usage rule for pronoun-antecedent agreement is that pronouns must match their antecedents in gender, person, number, and case. Gender refers to masculine or feminine; person to the first, second, third; number to …

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Why bother about aggravate vs exasperate vs exacerbate?

For the first time in over 2 years my blog is being posted later in the day than usual – a busy week, notwithstanding increased discussion about blogs being “so yesterday’s medium.” As I evaluate and explore options for Writingessentialsbyellen.com and its blog, new posts continue on hiatus. Meanwhile, favorite posts will be published with …

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Making sentence structures parallel

Note: The WritingEssentials blog is on hiatus. Meanwhile, favorite posts will be published with updates. Ellen ~~ Nearly 100 posts ago, we looked at parallelism, or parallel sentence structure. I’m revisiting this post after reviewing some writing of a Sprint group participant who had composed a list for a piece she submitted for publication. What …

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Revisiting Bird by bird and writing inspiration

Note: The WritingEssentials blog is on hiatus. Meanwhile, favorite posts will be published with updates. Ellen ~~ The original post was written in celebration of writers and writing, including over a year of weekly blog posts on writing essentials and English fundamentals here. Many have focused on grammatical and usage errors, including language myths and …

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How do grammar and punctuation affect style?

Note: The WritingEssentials blog is on hiatus. Meanwhile, favorite posts will be published with updates. Ellen ~~ Writers can use their understanding of grammar rules and sentence syntax to shape their stylistic choices. As discussed in a previous post, when writers make “accurate, effective, and helpful punctuation choices,” this adds to their competency and authority …

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